One third of marketers struggle to measure ROI, according to a study published by Webmarketing123 in February of 2015.
The study surveyed 600 B2B and B2C marketers and found that a good deal of marketers are still unsure which channels create the most impact.
Image via Webmarketing123
The study also found that 38% of marketers do not have an attribution model in place, and that many still rely on “gut instinct” for determining budget allocation.
No doubt, attribution modeling is a difficult, imperfect science. Even an expert like Avinash Kaushik who makes it easier to understand says “ there is lots of unknowable data.”
For as true as that is, part of the problem may be more foundational.
Many marketers I know personally have desktops that look like this:
Creative briefs, spreadsheets, gifs, campaigns, they’re everywhere, and it’s a total nightmare.
Need to check the performance of a specific campaign from 6 months ago? Good luck. What was the name of that .png file the design department sent over last week? Who knows… might as well ask them again.
The problem with this kind of “organization” is that it actively and passively wastes time and money.
Actively, because it’s impossible to know how every campaign dollar turns into profit, and passively due to wasted time hunting down reports, creative, and asking others to locate certain items.
This isn’t anything new. A study in 2004 by office supply company, Esselte, as reported by the National Association of Professional Organizers, found by interviewing 6,000 executives, that the average executive wastes roughly six weeks out of the year searching for lost documents.
Another study by OfficeMax, surveying 1,000 American adults, found that 90% of people believe clutter has a negative impact on their life and work.
The solution, at least in part, comes down to creating your own internal file structure to keep everything organized.
Throughout the rest of this piece, I will show you how I personally organize all of my files and the effect that has on my ability to measure and improve ROI on the different areas of my marketing plan.
Step 1 - Create The Master File Structure
The first, and most important question you must ask yourself when creating your file structure is “What am I responsible for?”
The screenshot above is from my personal Google Drive that breaks down all of the things I am personally responsible for at this point in time.
Shopify Plus - The main area where most of my day to day work is taking place.
It’s important to me that these folders have a broad label. As we dig deeper into the file structure, the information becomes more and more specific, as I’ll demonstrate in the next section.
Step 2 -Find the Rosetta Stone For Your File Structure
If you were to click on the “Admin” folder in my Google Drive, you’ll find two copies of my resume along with three additional folders:
- Profile Images
These folders still keep with the broad naming theme like the level above, however they are more specific to my own personal administration.
So for example, when I do a webinar and the host says “can you send me your profile pic in .jpg format?” instead of wasting time hunting it down and converting it, all I have to do is open my “Profile Images” folder, select the requested image format, and send it over.
However, what about when the request is more specific? For example, when accounting says:
“Hey, can you send me your expenses from April? I need it ASAP!”
This is where the need for a better organization system comes in, and what I mean by finding the Rosetta stone for your file structure.
In real life, the Rosetta Stone, was a large stone with royal decree inscribed in three separate languages; Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Ancient Greek, and Demotic.
Because linguists already knew two of the languages, these inscriptions became the main tool for unlocking a number of Egyptian texts that were previously undecipherable. Since then, the Rosetta Stone has become a metaphor for finding a common core for unlocking a complicated system.
In the context of file organization, this means eventually breaking a broad category down into years and months.
So if my accounting team had an urgent request for an expense report, I would click on the folder labeled “Expenses” where I would find folders for each year…
... and one level deeper, folders for each individual month…
And within each month’s folder, a master spreadsheet of the expenses for the trip, along with “Dining” and “Travel” folders, containing photos of each receipt.
When I travel, I snap a photo of my receipt right away and save it in the appropriate folder.
This makes it much easier to create my expense report while I’m on the trip, and has greatly minimized the amount of receipts I’ve lost while I’m on the road.
Digging even further into the individual expense report, every line item also links to the photo of the corresponding receipt.
Ultimately, this entire structure saves everyone time. When I forward this expense report to my manager or accounting, everything they need to approve the expense is available in one location.
If for some reason in the future I have to find my expenses for the month of April, all I have to do is click Admin -> Expenses -> April and I have access to everything I need.
Step 3 - Apply The File Structure to All Digital Marketing Channels
In the scenario above, it’s easy to see how this drills down to an expense report, but how does it apply to tracking multiple marketing channels, and how does that translate to ROI?
To demonstrate, we’ll explore a mock version of my Shopify Plus folder:
At the top most level within my Shopify Plus folder, there are two broad folders; Admin and Marketing.
Here, my admin folder has two additional folders - “Foundation” which contains foundational items to Shopify Plus and “Invoices” which is pretty self explanatory.
In the “Marketing” folder, there is a master workbook which provides an overview of all marketing campaigns (tracking the money spent & money earned for each channel), along with folders for each channel that’s being utilized.
Digging into the “Email Marketing” folder, we see it is broken down first by year, then by month like before.
Within each month, you’ll find the following:
- A quantitative overview for the performance of every campaign in spreadsheet form.
This gives a side by side comparison of A/B test performance within individual sends, and links to the emails used in the test.
- A written report (created at the end of the month) that shows the net gains & losses to the email list for the month. This report contains screenshots of graphs found within the email software, insights gained from winning and losing tests, and any new segments that may have been created and why.
- Folders for every campaign run in a month. Within each folder there are subfolders for A and B versions of each email that is sent.
Once the email has run it’s course, I re-label the winning email’s folder to include [Winner] before the subject line.
If you’re thinking, “Man, that’s a lot of work” you’re not wrong. It 100% is.
However, the thing that takes the most time isn’t what you think.
You see, because I spent 10 minutes sometime earlier this year to create folders for each month, all I have to do when it’s time to send an email is right click to create a new folder, name the campaign, and create two new folders for the A and B versions of the email.
It took you longer to read that last paragraph than it does for me to include it into my workflow.
What takes the most time is the written monthly report.
Giving a written overview and analysis of the activities in the month is by far the most time consuming part of the process, however it also the most valuable for two main reasons:
But more importantly...
2.) When the department scales to include new hires, they will have access to a rich library of campaign performance, creative, and analysis.
This will make their onboarding process more effective, allowing them to get to work faster, while minimizing training expenses for the company.
Step 4 - Use a Master Marketing Workbook To Track Performance of All Channels
After you’ve replicated this process for each channel, use a master workbook to keep track of all channel performance from a high level.
For my own personal use, I’ve created a modified version of this workbook created by Redditor /u/PablanoPlanto.
This workbook tracks each channel on a month by month basis.
Within each channel, you keep track of your growth goals and budget (in blue), as well as your actual wins (prospects, leads, and customers earned) and the monetary amount earned.
For each channel, I link to the corresponding monthly folder, putting the quantitative and qualitative analysis for that channel’s month just one click away.
Because all of the channel reports are interlinked, this master spreadsheet becomes the hub for the entire marketing strategy, giving me the flexibility to zoom out to compare channels against each other, and zoom in to specific campaigns to see their performance at a granular level.
As more people are hired to take ownership of each channel, this framework will easily scale and enable me to work strategically with each channel to work towards our larger goals.
This system has saved me countless hours and has helped me to focus more on the work at hand.
The marketing workbook especially was able to help me wrap my own head around individual channel performance and tracking ROI.
Though setting up the technical tracking and building attribution models in the data-layer is a challenge on its own (and one we’ll tackle in future articles on the Plus blog), building these on a framework and process that has analysis baked in, means that ROI only becomes stronger as the data becomes more refined.
About The Author
Tommy Walker is the Editor-in-Chief of the Shopify Plus blog. It is his goal to provide high-volume ecommerce stores with deeply researched, honest advice for growing their customer base, revenues and profits. Get more from Tommy on Twitter.